Real Madrid assistant coach Aitor Karanka believes tonight’s Champions League semi-final second leg against Barcelona has been tarnished by UEFA's decision not to charge the Catalans following the bad-tempered first meeting at the Bernabeu last week.
Madrid had complained of play-acting by Barca's players and alleged that Blaugrana midfielder Sergio Busquets had directed racist remarks at Brazilian full-back Marcelo during last Wednesday's ugly encounter, but European football's governing body threw out their complaint yesterday.
“Tomorrow's match has been overshadowed by UEFA's resolution — it's on another plane now,” said Karanka last night.
“We have been punished but there are [Barca] players who didn't respect the principles of fair play or who made racist insults, covering their mouths, who will be on the pitch tomorrow.”
Karanka's fiery remarks are sure to whip up yet more controversy ahead of the match, which will see Madrid missing both Pepe and Sergio Ramos through suspension.
Madrid coach Jose Mourinho, who sat out last night’s pre-match press conference, will also be watching from the stands at the Nou Camp after he was dismissed during his side's 2-0 reverse in the first leg last week.
Mourinho courted controversy after last week's match by claiming Barcelona receive favours from UEFA, in addition to questioning the ethics of the club's relationship with Unicef and branding Barca's 2009 Champions League win “scandalous”.
The comments prompted Barca to file a complaint with UEFA, but that too was dismissed by the governing body yesterday.
Mourinho will nevertheless watch tonight’s match from the stands, but Karanka insists the mercurial coach will still be in a position to influence proceedings.
“He will be in the stands, but he will be able to get his message across,” Karanka said.
“If we could win and dedicate the victory to him it would be something important.
“Real Madrid have 109 years of proud history and we will fight to the end.”
Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola said Real Madrid had no grounds to complain about his side.
“They can present all the complaints they like, but UEFA are the ones who decide,” he said.
“They think we are unsporting, but I think completely the opposite. Here we teach our players manners from a young age.”
Guardiola also took the opportunity to remind Mourinho of those values.
“Mourinho was here [at Barcelona] for five years and he knows our values: to win, fight and earn respect by respecting your rival,” he said.
Tonight’s Clasico is the last of four meetings between the sides in the space of 18 days and the prize at stake is the biggest of all — a place in the Champions League final at Wembley.
“This is when it all finishes,” said Guardiola, whose side won the first leg 2-0 thanks to a Lionel Messi brace.
“We are playing for a place in the final, not to beat Real Madrid.”
Barca lost the final of the Copa del Rey to Madrid just under two weeks ago, but the Catalans are on the verge of winning the Primera Division title for the third year running and securing a return to Wembley — the scene of their first European Cup win in 1992.
“After everything that has happened, it's a great achievement to be four points away from winning the league and on the verge of getting to the final at Wembley,” said Guardiola, who played in that European success 19 years ago.